JETBLAST: WINNIPEG @ VANCOUVER

JETBLAST

Winnipeg Jets (38-23-12) at Vancouver Canucks (42-26-4) 9:00 p.m., Rogers Arena,
TV: Sportsnet Radio: TSN 1290
The Winnipeg Jets play their second game in as many nights tonight when they visit Vancouver for a clash with the Canucks. This is the second of three meetings between the teams, Vancouver winning the first on a Luca Sbisa overtime goal back on February 3rd. The Jets will host the Canucks on April 4th to close out this series. These teams are currently tied in the standings, but in very different positions. The Canucks are sitting second in their division, and trying to avoid the battle between LA and Calgary for that last spot, while Winnipeg continues to fight tooth and nail to hold on to any kind of playoff spot they can get their hands on. Jets and Canucks, Lets Go!

Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks host the Jets on the second half of a back to back just days after finding themselves in the same position. Saturday and Sunday the Canucks played in LA and in Arizona respectively and were winners of both. They will try to stop Winnipeg from the same back to back win fate tonight. The Canucks have won their last two and four of their last five overall, and are just another one of the teams in the bottom half of the West that refuses to lose recently. At 88 points, the Canucks are keeping themselves just ahead of the dogfight betwwen the Kings and Flames for the last divisional spot in the Pacific, and at this point, the last playoff spot. They sit two up on Calgary and four on LA, with a game in hand on the Flames, the Canucks are in the position they want to be, and hold their fate in their own hands. With 10 games remaining a .500 record should get them into the playoffs, but no team wants to enter the post season below their best so look for the Canucks to continue this push and stay hot until the end of the season.

Jets

Make it five for five for the team from Winnipeg who has after sweeping a home stand, has now continued to rack up the points. Tonight may be the stiffest test however, not from the team they’re playing, but from the circumstance. No team is great on back to backs, but at this point of the year, the excuses have dried up and fans expect you to put on your work boots and get out there to complete the job. If the Jets can get past the fatigue there is no reason they should not be able to continue this winning streak. The team is looking better than ever, with a roster that seems to have completely developed and gelled, not to mention the imminent returns of Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien, with Mathieu Perreault not to far behind them. All of them traveled with the team but their status’ remain uncertain. Jets fans got another scare when Blake Wheeler was struck in the face with a puck in the first period in Edmonton. After missing a period however, Wheeler returned, with a few more stitches and few less teeth, but he returned and played well. Wheeler was a good analogie for this teams season, battered but not broken, down but not out. The Jets have 9 games remaining and if they keep playing the way they are, they will finally bring the playoffs to this city.

Keys to the Game

Hutch is back: After losing the starting job, and watching Ondrej Pavelec play great in 5 straight games, it appears Micheal Hutchinson will finally return to the net. He has watched his numbers plummet since the All Star break and appears to be back as the second goalie. He needs to perform tonight and make it a tough decision for Paul Maurice every day.

Slow down the Game: Two games in two nights is often a disadvantage, but with how tight the race is in the West the Jets cannot afford to use that as an excuse, and need to come back and play like they did last night again. The Canucks will be fresher, so the Jets need to manage the way they play the game. Slow it down, no run and gun, play physical and make the Canucks earn every inch.

Scoreboard Watching: Every team in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference did their part last night. LA, Minnesota and Calgary all joined the Winnipeg Jets getting wins so nothing changes headed into tonight. However, the Jets are not the only team playing a back to back as both Minnesota and LA also both play games tonight. With so many teams playing with that disadvantage, it could be a night of movement in the West.

Starting Goalies

Michael Hutchinson (20-9-5) GAA: 2.41 SV% .913
Eddie Lack (13-10-3) GAA: 2.43 SV% .920

Injuries

Clitsome, WPG, (Back) out for season
Perreault, WPG, (LBI) out
Byfuglien, WPG, (UBI) day-to-day
Little, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Chiarot, WPG, (Broken Hand) out
Postma, WPG, (LBI) day-to-day

Richardson, VAN, (Ankle) day-to-day
Kassian, VAN, (Back) day-to-day
Miller, VAN, (Knee) out

Last 10 (W-L-OTL)

Jets: 7-3-0
Canucks: 6-3-1

Prediction

Jets cannot keep the win streak going but grab a single point on the road.
Canucks 3 Jets 2

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Diehard Winnipeg sports fan. Agree or disagree with something I wrote? Find me on twitter @seantheoilcan and let me know
Go Jets Go!

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